Sight, Sound and Beyond

The World of Dreams

Have any good dreams lately?

This is one of my popular lines that I use to start a conversation with people that with whom I am well-acquainted.

I have discussed dreams and their connection with God in earlier blog posts.  I believe that in dreams we can indeed encounter the divine and receive powerful messages.  I have seen loved ones who have gone before me, which even include beloved pet.  You can read more about these experiences by clicking on the the blog category labeled Dreams Dreams.

Today I would like to talk about dreams in terms of being a therapeutic activity.  Everyone has a hobby that helps them distress.  I just happen to enjoy one of my hobbies while I am asleep.

Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated by dreams.  In fact, when I was 13 years old, I began my independent study of dream interpretation.  I had bought my first book on dreams called The Illustrated Guide to Dreams by Valarie Francis.  It was around this time I learned about Lucid Dreams, which is when the dreamer becomes aware that he or she is dreaming while in the actual dream state.  By the time I was 13 years old, I had lucid dreams on several occasions.

When I was a freshman in college, I read Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold.  It was this book that taught me to experience lucid dream at will.  I remember keeping a special dream journal contained written accounts of all my experiences.

Part of learning the art of  lucid dreaming is being able to immediately recognize whether or not you are in fact dreaming.  It is a habit that you would only practice while dreaming but during waking hours as well.  Obviously there are things I am not able to do very well in dreams that I can do while awake and vice versa.  For example, in dreams I have difficulty reading.  The letters often become scrambled and/or difficult to read.  Often times whatever it is I am reading will not make much sense either.  Being able to read the time in dreams is always strange, too.  The numbers will not make sense or in some case I will see letters instead of numbers  I also have trouble turning lights and electronics off in dreams.  They always seem to turn back on.

While I am in the dream world, I am able to do the impossible.  I can fly, walk on water, breathe underwater, teleport to a new location and travel in time.  Most of the times, if I am dreaming and I jump, I will float.  This is a dead giveaway that I am dreaming.  Often times, I will experience what is known as false awakening.  I will think that I am awake in my bed and get up, but I am really in fact asleep.  Jumping, helps me to determine if I am really dreaming or awake.  If it is in fact a dream, I let my imagine run wild.

I have written my best music in dreams.  It is just too bad I can never recall what I heard upon awakening.  I have been a secret agent working for the FBI, a warrior princess, a healer, a violinist who plays Celtic style music, a trombone player in a pit orchestra, a dancer, a soldier, and yes, even an angel.

I have flown to outer space and saw Mahrs, flown a helicopter, flown a flying car (yes they exist in my dreams), done standup comedy, starred in comedy and Syfy movies and have even been a film director.

Dreams have been a source of comfort in my life as well as a source of entertainment.  I must say that whenever I am going through a rough spot in life, my dreams have a way of lifting my spirits.  When I dream I feel so free.  I must confess that I feel the most joy when I dream.  The dream world is so beautiful and my senses are heightened.  The colors and sounds are truly wonderful.

I have dreamed up some interesting characters, which include imaginary friends from child.  I see people from real life in my dreams as well such as family, friends and coworkers.  I even dream about my birds.  I must say that I have quite bizarre dreams about those two.  I no longer have this particular dream as much as I used to but I would constantly have this dream that my two little feathered friends would start to multiply in numbers.  In the dream I would see the two of them: Sunny, a sun conure and Nikki, a quaker parrot.  Then I would see two Sunnies and two Nikkies, then three Sunnies and three Nikkies, and so on.  Soon there would be several of them and I would be trying to figure out which two birds were the original two.

Dreams are a reflection of our waking lives and I would say that in many ways, my birds have taken over my life.  They have weaseled their way into my creative music projects, blog posts and I would say that at least 95% percent of the pictures videos on my camera roll are of them.  It has been said that I talk about my birds a lot, too.  Therefore, it is no surprise that they would take over my dreams, too.

Many people I talk to tell me that don’t dream.  That is not true.  Everyone dreams every night.  It is a matter of learning how to remember your dreams.  If you would like to start remembering your dreams, you can start by keeping a journal or digital recorder by your bedside.  Upon awakening, immediately try to recall what you dreamed the night before and record it using a digital recorder or write it down later. The trick is to immediate recall upon awakening before even sitting up in bed.  This is when the details are most fresh in the mind.  Once you are set up, new thoughts of the day pop into your head and will most likely cause you to forget what you dreamt.

Well, I will close for now.  Sweet dreams!


Myself and Me

Ever since I was a kid, I have always found pleasure in talking to myself.  Now when I say talk to myself, I seriously mean talking and answering myself out loud.  If you could hear me talking to myself, you would think there were two people in the room.  It’s literally a two-way conversation

Since childhood, talking to myself provided me with much comfort and entertainment.  After all, if you ever get into an argument with yourself, you can never lose right?  But most importantly, talking to myself has also provided me with much mental clarity when it came to wisdom, problem solving and self understanding.

When I was a child, I would talk to myself while doing homework.  For example, when starting a new math problem I would ask,   “How do we do this one?”

I would then answer, “Well, you got to work within the parenthesis first.  Remember the order of operations.”

“Oh yeah,” I would say with a smile.  I would literally talk myself through the entire problem.  Talking to myself allowed me to focus better because it was almost like doing homework with a tutor or study buddy.  It felt as if someone were keeping me company.  Of course, I knew that no one was there except me, but when you are a child, it is so much fun to pretend.

Today, I continue to talk to myself.  In fact, I talk to myself at work, when I am practicing or writing music, when I am cleaning, etc.  Whenever I find myself alone with a task that needs completion, I find it helpful to talk out loud as I go.  Sometimes, when I need expert advice, I often go to myself.  Actually, I go to God first, and then I go to myself.  You get the idea.

As a child, I very much enjoyed retreating into my own little world.  It’s a lot of fun to go in your own little world because you know everyone there and they know you.  You are not a stranger or in my case, a weirdo.  Up until I entered junior high school, I had imaginary friends.  As a sensitive child, I didn’t handle losing friends very well and I could remember a particular time during one school year in which I didn’t have any friends to sit with at lunchtime.  Of course, I would not openly talk to myself when people were around because I knew I would come across as even weirder than I appeared to be, but sometimes I would talk to myself in a soft voice or whisper.  I would do that when I wanted to feel that sense of having a companion with me.  There is something quite magical and wonderful about the imagination.  If you imagine something long enough, it almost feels real.  On the outside, I didn’t appear as much; I was the uncool, deaf-blind kid who couldn’t act normal to save her life (PS I still can’t act normal but could care less).  However, despite how I appeared to others on the outside, on the inside I was very rich and lived in a magical world where the impossible existed.

Despite my imaginary friends fading away, I still continue to talk to myself.  I think I read somewhere that if you talk to yourself it is a sign of high intelligence.  Now that’s a nice bonus!  I never considered myself to be the brightest bulb on the Christmas Tree, but I wouldn’t consider myself to be a complete airhead either.

Allow me to share my list of benefits of talking to myself.  Some of these I have already touched upon briefly.

Talking to yourself is very therapeutic.

I seriously think I am my own best therapist.  My mother always told me that sometimes you got to be your own doctor.  Well, sometimes you got to be your own therapist too.  When I am feeling frazzled or anxious, a nice healthy conversation with myself can often do wonders.  It is amazing what you can learn about yourself if you simply talk to yourself.  Some of my greatest wisdom came about while having a conversation with myself and simply asking the question why?

Talking to yourself provides self reassurance.

Whenever I need a pep talk, I always have a conversation with myself.  I find it best to do this in front of a mirror in the bathroom.  However, in my opinion a mirror is not completely necessary.  Whenever I am getting ready to do something that I feel a little anxious about, I just say things to myself like “You got this.” “It’s going to be Okay.” and most importantly “You are not an idiot.”

Talking to yourself is a helpful tool when it comes to problem solving.

What better way to solve a problem then to talk it out with yourself?  When I was a kid, I helped myself solve math problems.  Now I talk to myself when I need help in matters ranging from making important decisions to keeping my two parrots’ hormones under control during breeding season.

Talking to yourself increases productivity.

Talking to myself helps me to complete tasks at work, compose music, practice the piano and organ, do any kind of housework, etc.  Basically, if I am alone and I am doing something, I am most likely talking to myself.  In fact it isn’t uncommon for someone to be in earshot of my conversations and ask: “Who are you talking to?”

I rarely feel lonely.

Seriously, whenever I am by myself with no other people around, I find myself constantly talking to myself without even thinking about it.  Because of this, I rarely ever feel lonely.  Sometimes I will find it to be a relief to be alone so that I CAN talk to myself and reflect.  I guess it’s because I always have so much to say and need to get it out of my system.  PS I have been told by quite a few people that I talk too much.

Well, I don’t know if I convinced you that talking yourself is completely beneficial.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought that it was still odd behavior.  You probably think I am weird and trust me, you wouldn’t be the first to think that.  My point of sharing this information was simply that: to share.  You can take it or leave it.  However, if you are like me and do talk to yourself, rest assured that you are not alone and are in good company.

Thursday, March 1, 1990

Today is Thursday, March 1st.  For many it is the first day of a new month but for me, March 1st has great significance.  It was on Thursday, March 1, 1990 that I officially began my piano studies.  My first piano teacher was Donna DeAngelis, who also taught my eldest sister piano.

Most parents want for their children to learn the piano and in many cases, it is against their children’s wishes.  I can recall many stories of individuals telling me that they took piano lessons because their parents wanted them to learn, and they never practiced.  It was the complete opposite with me.  I had to really prove that I was  interested and that I would stick with it for at least a couple years.

My interest in piano lessons began to grow when an “incident” occurred at a childhood friend’s house.  I was about seven years old, and my friend showed me a small electronic keyboard that had a series of buttons at the top.  She pushed one button and soon I heard a simple melody with a drum accompaniment.  I listened to it a couple times.  Then she pushed another button, which produced the drum accompaniment alone.  My fingers immediately jumped to the keyboard, and I began playing the song exactly how I remembered it.  My childhood friend immediately jumped up and ran into the kitchen where her mother was.  I followed to see what the excitement was all about.  “Mom! Mom!” she cried “She can play it!”  I was shocked by her enthusiastic response.  I had no idea what the big deal was.  Wasn’t that how everyone learned music?  My friend’s mother told me that I should take piano lessons.

Prior to my piano studies, I had mimicked the melodies I heard on the radio or television.  I was like a little parrot mimicking speech (no wonder I live with parrots now!).  I would fumble around the keyboard and strike notes until I could get them to sound like a melody I had heard earlier.  I did not even know the names of notes I played, but I could hear the difference between each one.  Each one had a special color and it were the colors that helped me play by ear.

I can still remember my first piano lesson.  I was eight years old, and the first thing I learned was all the names of the notes.  I could remember my teacher introducing me to them.  That’s when I learned that the pink note was C, the green note was D, the blue note was E, etc.  In a matter of minutes I could find and name them all (including sharps and flats).  Within a couple months I learned two things about myself:

  1. I had hearing loss and needing to wear hearing aids.
  2. I had absolute pitch or the ability to correctly name musical notes that I would hear on piano.

It seemed like a paradox to be a hearing impaired musician who had absolute pitch.  Was that even possible?  I didn’t know, and to be frank, I didn’t care.  Sure, I was struggling to hear my classmates in school, and was afraid to answer the telephone (I had trouble hearing the person at the other end).  However, I had a very good musical ear according to my piano teacher.  I honestly thought the hearing loss was simply temporary and would cure itself on its own.

It took me a while to accept my hearing loss for what it was but eventually I did accept it when I was 12 years old.  Not only did I accept it, I never allowed it to prevent me from continuing my musical studies.  In May 2004, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music at Manhattanville College where I concentrated in piano performance, and in May 2008, I completed a Master of Music at Purchase College where I concentrated in composition.

Now, I am currently studying the organ.

If you had told me when I was eight years old that I was going to study piano for the next 20 years, earn two music degrees and then start studying the organ in my 30’s, I would look at you like you were nuts.  It is amazing where that first piano lesson took me, and it’s amazing how your life can change with some encouragement.  The world becomes a better place when someone gives you a chance.  My first piano teacher actually believed I could succeed.  Not everyone is lucky to have such support.

March 1, 1990 is more than just a date.  It marked the beginning of a wild and crazy musical adventure.


Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a strange land

That is what I am

Stranger in a strange land

I do not understand


I feel that I am not from here

Yet it was here where I was born

A stranger in a strange land

Trying to make my way home


A land full of fear

Anger and delusion

Hate and corruption

Lies and illusions


How my heart trembles

Full of anguish, it strives to live

Seeking love, piece and comfort

But these the world cannot give


For many hearts have been broken

Through many ages passed

Where one often drinks the wine

Then throws away the glass


Walking through the valleys

Excluded and alone

A stranger in a strange land

Trying to make my way home


“Do you think she is in heaven?” My mother asked me a couple months ago.  She was referring to her 12 year old West Highland White Terrier, who passed away due to the presence of a brain tumor.  I was on vacation with my friend Mary when Sofia took a turn for the worse.  Sofia had suffered from terrible seizures, and by the time my parents got her to the vet to be put down, she was barely conscious.

The last I had seen her, Sofia was in pretty good spirits.  I was not aware that she had a brain tumor.  I had left for vacation when the vet gave the diagnosis to my parents.   Imagine my surprise when I found out what was going on.  The evening before I had found out the news of her passing, I had a very vivid dream about her.  I saw her coming toward me, and she was happy.  I took it as a message from God that she was fine and living happily with Him.  I believe that God takes pleasure in living with his creatures, even a small dog like Sofia.

But of course all kinds of theological questions came to mind, which resulted in me feeling very anxious.  Does Sofia still exist?  Is she totally gone?  St. Thomas Acquaints, a theologian and Doctor of the Church, would say that Sofia’s soul ceased to exist after physical death because only human beings have immortal souls.

I was so confused and anxious that I emailed a priest that used to minister at my home parish.  He assured me that God does not eternally destroy that which He creates.  I know that God doesn’t eternally destroy what He creates, but is that the same thing as allowing what He creates to go out of existence?

Many Catholics have told me that Heaven is only for human beings.  It has been said to me: “Jesus did not die for our pets,” “Animals do not have free will” or “Animals are not capable of love.”  A lot of these things are hard for me to swallow.  I get mixed answers because the truth is that no one really knows.  Even The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not provide an answer.

I know that animals are not human beings and are not created in the image and likeness of God, but they were still created by God and God said they were good right?  The issue I have is not whether or not I will see Sofia in heaven, but whether or not Sofia even still exists.  The thought of her being lost forever is quite upsetting.  It is not so much that I must see her again, but rather to have the assurance that she still happily  lives on in the presence of her Creator.  It is one thing to not see your dog, but it is a completely different thing to never see your dog and to be told she no longer exists.  Do you see the difference?

I was not Sofia’s favorite human.  My mother was.  They had a special relationship, and Sofia was her little buddy.  I have fond memories of the two of them watching TV together on the couch.  Even though I was not Sofia’s favorite human, I still loved her.  After all, I was a part of her life.  I enjoyed sitting next to her, petting her and giving her belly rubs.  I would take her for walks outside and keep her company when my mother wasn’t home.  Sofia had a fiery personality.  Some moments she was stubborn and tough as nails, but that would change and she would reveal her happy, playful side.  She loved to run around and look out the window.  She especially enjoyed playing with my nieces and nephew.

When my mother asked if Sofia is in heaven, I had to answer as best as I could.  Remember, I am not a Doctor of the Church, and I don’t have any degrees in Catholic theology.  I didn’t even attend Catholic school so what can I possibly know?  I am as clueless as they come.

I believe it is very possible that Sofia is in Heaven and that she is with God.  The whole of creation is a family.  Yes, we are children of God, but the rest of creation is still part of God’s family as well.  Maybe we could view them as God’s extended family.   We all have our immediate families yes?  We also have relatives.  Perhaps God’s family is much like that.  We are his children and are members of His immediate family, but our non human brethren are family, too.  Perhaps the animals are like adoptive “nieces and nephews.”  Whatever the case may be, God is the creator of all living things and all the living creatures are His.

Another possibility is Sofia could be part of the New Earth, which will come about after the final judgment.  Sofia lived the way a dog should live during her time spent on Earth.  Perhaps after the resurrection she could continue to live out her earthly existence.  One thing is for certain: God doesn’t have limits.  If he can create the universe and the world out of nothing, He can certainly recreate a creature that once existed.  Perhaps Sofia doesn’t have an immortal soul likes humans do, but God could recreate her one way or another if He wills it.

Many will say that animals do not know God, but Sofia lived among humans who love God.  I believe that my mother helped Sofia come to know God at some level.  How?  Well, my mother took care of her and loved her just as God loves and cares for us.   C.S. Lewis adopts a similar view, which is discussed in his book titled The Problem of Pain.

If, nevertheless, the strong conviction which we have of a real, though doubtless rudimentary, selfhood in the higher animals, and specially in those we tame, is not an illusion, their destiny demands a somewhat deeper consideration … Man was appointed by God to have dominion over the beasts, and everything a man does to an animal is either a lawful exercise, or a sacrilegious abuse, of an authority by Divine right. The tame animal is therefore, in the deepest sense, the only ‘natural’ animal – the only one we see occupying the place it was made to occupy, and it is on the tame animal that we must base all our doctrine of beasts. Now it will be seen that, in so far as the tame animal has a real self or personality, it owes this almost entirely to its master.

What Lewis suggests here is that we human beings are able to make known to our animal companions a certain sense of self.  Thus, it is through their relationships with human beings that animals can enter into heaven.  It sounds quite similar to how it is through our relationship with Jesus Christ that we human beings can enter into eternity with God.

C.S. Lewis concludes.

“And in this way it seems to me possible that certain animals may have an immortality, not in themselves, but in the immortality of their masters,”

I would also like to add that animals also live in the present moment.  They are not stuck in the past or worrying about the future the way human beings are.  Because of our preoccupation with the past and future, we often miss out on the present.  Animals are always in the present moment, and to be in the present moment is to truly be in the presences of God.  After all, God is the great I Am, not the great I Was or the great I Will Be right?  God encompasses the past present and future.

I do not have all the answers, but I have written another post related to this topic called Animals in Heaven, One Catholic’s Perspective.  I know many will disagree with me, especially those with strong backgrounds in Catholic theology or those who had the privilege to receive a catholic education, but my wish is not so much so see Sofia in Heaven (she probably would have little interest in seeing me anyways).  My wish is that Sofia be with God in Heaven where she will be most happy and free from suffering.

And so I end by leaving you with the following advice: If you have lost an animal in your lifetime, or if you worry what will become of your beloved friend after his or her physical death, do not pray that he or she will enter into heaven so that you can see them again, but pray that they may enter Heaven  so that they can be with God.  While we may love them dearly, no one is a better lover than God.  If you love anyone, whether it be a another human being or a small creature like Sofia, pray that at that moment of death, he or she will be reunited with the greatest love of all: their Creator, who is love itself.  After all, it is because of God that we all love in the first place.


The Tortoise

I have a confession to make.  I get a bit intimidated when I meet people who are younger than I am and are more successful than I am.  Yup, there you have it.  I will often meet someone younger than I am that has an amazing career, their own home, their own family, etc.  Feelings of inadequacy will often creep in and I will feel like an epic failure.

As you may already know, I was a late bloomer.  I started Kindergarten at the age of 6 instead of the typical age of 5.  Therefore I was the oldest in my class.  I was the oldest, but you would have never guessed it because I was behind on so many levels, especially socially.  My classmates in many ways were light years ahead of me.  Everything came so easily to them whereas I always felt like everything was a challenge.  Even, my own older siblings reached all their miles stones before I ever did.  I often felt quite defeated being the youngest child since both of my sisters were always such tough acts to follow.  I always thought that in time I would catch up with everybody and have my glory day when I could say: “At last, I have gotten further in life than expected.”

There is an old Italian proverb that goes like this:

Chi va piano va sano e va lontano.  Chi va forte va alla morte!

This translate to:

The one who goes slow, goes safely thus far.  The one who goes fast will die.

I often repeat this proverb to myself when I find myself falling behind in life.  It reminds me of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  The hare was quick, but he was overly confident and fell asleep during his race against the tortoise.  As a result, the tortoise crossed the finish line first.   The story encourages one to believe that everything adds up in the end.  As you can guess, I truly identify with the tortoise because I move through life quite slowly.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would not say that my entire life has been a complete failure.  Sure, it took me a bit longer than most to achieve things, but I got there eventually.  I may not have had numerous successes in my life like my contemporaries, but the successes that I have had, I attribute to the Lord.  For example, it is because of God that I stuck with music for most of my life.  Ironically, it was actually more difficult to quit making music than to continue doing so.  If that is not divine intervention, I don’t know what is.  Furthermore, I believe that God wanted me to be a musician to bring people closer to Him.  There is something about the arts that can take one to a new world of discovery.

So how does a tortoise like myself experience and view the world.  Well, when you move at a slow steady pace in life, you are better able to understand the world in a different way.  I have learned a lot by watching others pass by.  Let’s just say that as a tortoise you have time to think a lot because it takes long for you to reach your true destination.  If you are wondering where I am going, don’t ask.  I don’t really know.  I am just trying to follow where the Lord leads me, but often times it’s not very clear to me if I am actually following Him.

I often strive to live my life with as much detachment from the world as possible, focusing as much as I can on the wonderful living creations that God made.  I have found that attachment to man-made things has been the root cause of much of my own suffering in life.  1 John 2: 15-17 states

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world.   And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

I try to live life keeping my eyes toward God and heaven, but all too often I fall and become distracted with things of the world.  I see the many hares speeding by me and I think to myself, “Aw man, they are so far ahead of me.”  They are certainly doing great things and receiving recognition.

It is very easy to view success through the eyes of the world when it comes at you from every angle.  Our culture is filled with celebrities who flaunt their wealth and talk about their million dollar contracts.  I am surrounded by people who are advancing in their careers or maybe even the founder and president of their own business.  All around me I hear of people buying houses, getting promoted, making more money, getting married, having children, etc. These things are obviously not bad in themselves.  In fact these are good things.  However, it seems that we celebrate what a person gains rather than what a person gives.  If a person has a spouse and children, they are viewed as successful compared to the single person who tries to make a difference in his or own community.  A person who has their own home is viewed as successful compared to the person who lives with parents or other family members.  A person who makes $120,000 a year is viewed as more successful than the person who makes a fraction of that, and a person is who is loved by the world is viewed as more successful than a person who is after God’s heart.

Since a young age, I was unintentionally taught that to gain is to be successful.  If you get good grades in school you are successful.  If you make friends you are considered successful and the more friends the better.  I can still remember my Sweet 16.  It consisted of me and two friends, not a real sweet sixteen like both my older sisters had.  My oldest sister had 35 friends at her party.  My other sister had 75.  Because of my lack of friends, I felt rather pathetic and had no desire to even think of having a Sweet 16 party.  However my two friends took it upon themselves to throw me a little surprise party to celebrate my 16th birthday.

Once I entered the work force the notion became this: the more money you earn, the more successful you are.  If you have people working under you, you are even more successful.  Then, there is the relationship status.  When people hear you are single, they think there must something wrong with you.  In my case, people either thought I was gay or entering religious life.  I must confess that even in my own family I often feel inadequate because I am the only child of my parents who is not married with children.  I just have two birds that most people could care less about.

Because of both my sisters and their marriages, my parents have grandchildren.  I have not added to the family at all unless you count my two 13 year old birds, but it is not the same obviously.  About a year ago, I recall a woman speaking to another woman about her children: “They are all married, thank God.”  Hearing that remark was quite hurtful to me.  If that is what makes a child successful in their parents’ eyes then I must be a huge disappointment to mine.  Not only am I not married, but I am totally fine without ever getting married.  My biggest focus in life is getting with God and improving my spiritual life.  I believe that God is the only source of true happiness and success.  To love and live in relationship with God is to gain everything.   To the world I may appear to not have much, but in my heart of hearts I know I am very rich.

The one thing that the tortoise had in the story that I wish I had was self confidence.  Despite being ridiculed by the hare for his slowness, he still maintained focus on the goal.  He accepted himself as he was and possessed much wisdom and mental strength.  How I wish I could be like that.  If there is anything I wish God to give me, I wish to gain is the wisdom and mental strength that the tortoise possessed in that story.   Perhaps someday, I will experience such a moment.  I sure hope so, but perhaps the greatest moment that I can wish to experience is that moment I leave this world and come face to face with almighty God.  How I wish to cross that finish line and enter into Heaven with Him for all eternity, and as I enter that wonderful kingdom of pure love and bliss, how awesome it would be to hear our Lord  say something like: “Well done my good and faithful daughter.  Welcome home!”



A Reluctant Organist

unnamedIf you asked me ten years ago if I would ever consider learning to play the organ I would probably say, “Nope.”  For the last couple months, I have been pondering the idea, and with the help of a fellow choir member and colleague, I found someone who was willing to teach me.  I am schedule to have my firt lesson a week from tomorrow.

How did all this happen?  Well, after our church music director got a job closer to home, the choir scrambled to find someone who could fill in until our pastor could hire a permanent replacement.  After playing a few masses on piano at my church and even playing a mass on Christmas Eve with another parish at Westchester Department of Correction, my interest in playing music at church became even stronger.  There was one problem.  I didn’t know how to play the organ, and the more I thought about it, the more curious I became.  Could I actually learn to play?

Once I began considering the idea of learning to play the organ, my mind began to attack me with negative thoughts.

Are you kidding?  At your age?  You’re too old to learn a second instrument!

As a classically trained musician, I have often heard it said that to be a good musician on any instrument, it is best to start very young.  Most accomplished pianists begin their piano studies between the ages of 3 and 5.  I was 8 years old when I started, and according to classical standards, that is considered to be over the hill unless you happen to be a genius.  In case you are wondering, I am not a genius.

Now here I am at 35 years of age wanting to learn the organ.  Besides learning to play on at least two manuals (keyboards), I would be required to play on a pedal keyboard using my feet.  P.S. I am not the most well-coordinated person.  If you don’t believe me, you should check me out when I am out on the dance floor.  I may enjoy shaking a tail feather, but I don’t know if others enjoy watching me do so.

I took 20 years of piano lessons, and it wasn’t until my mid 20s that I began to play at a pretty reasonable level.  How long would it take me to play at a decent level on the organ?  Would it seriously take me another 20 years?

I haven’t even started lessons yet, and I have already been faced with my fair share of challenges.  I thought finding a teacher would be one of the most difficult parts, but there was something even more challenging: getting access to an organ.  I didn’t get the green light from my own home parish, and once I informed my father about it he quoted Luke 4:24

No prophet is accepted in his hometown.

Finally after many emails and telephone calls, I finally cut a break with another parish in my neighboring town.  The music director there was a huge help, and through him I was able to gain access to the organ in their small chapel.  The chapel has less activity than their main church, so I would less likely be an intrusion on other people.  This chapel is actually closer to where I live than my actual home parish.

I do not know what the outcome of all this will be.  I have been told by a couple people that God is calling me to pursue this and to become a church organist.  So far, I am not feeling like that’s the case.  Now don’t get me wrong, I initially felt it when the idea first popped into my head, but the feeling only lasted for a few minutes.  My own mother was confused by my interest in becoming an organist and said:

I don’t understand why are you doing this.  Holy Rosary doesn’t need an organist.

She failed to see that this was something beyond Holy Rosary.  Besides, I wouldn’t say that I am Holy Rosary’s most popular choice for church musician (although the choir likes me yay!).  To be quite honest, I am the one that fills in when there is absolutely no one else available.  For example, I played piano at a healing mass once because none of the musicians from the folk group were able to attend.  It was summertime and people were away on vacation. Let me just say when I was asked to play, I was pretty excited and gave it my best effort.  Sure, I was the only person left in the pool of choices, but I still got the call!

Last Sunday, we had no organist to play for the 9:30am mass and so with only 15 minutes prior notice, I jumped in, hoped for a miracle and played the mass on piano.  I will add that before I arrived at the church, my mother gave me some of her useful advice:

Don’t interrupt the priest by coming in too early with the Sanctus.

She was referring to the last time I played at mass.  Before all the angels and saints could begin proclaiming God’s glory by saying “holy holy holy,” I had already gotten started.  I am thinking all of Heaven was like “Whoa!  Check out that anticipation on Earth right now!”  Either that or Heaven had a good chuckle.  Whatever it was, I hope, it to some extent, pleasing to the Lord.  Messing up in church is truly a humbling experience.  P.S. There were twice as many holies sung at that particular mass.  There’s your silver lining!

Anyway, my parents happened to be at the impromptu mass that took place this morning.  My mother said:

You did very well.  I didn’t hear any mistakes.

Well, I managed to fool her.  There were plenty of mistakes and thankfully, our Lord was very gracious in helping me cover them up.

As I bring this blog post to a close, I recall a phrase that someone very close to me said a couple weeks ago:

“Go where God leads you.”

Let’s see where He takes me.

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